Saturday, September 14, 2013

Meant To Be


MEANT TO BE

Meant to be. This little idiom played an important part in my Christian journey. To this day I often find myself in circumstances that have come together despite the odds being totally against them. Today, when this happens, I thank God and chalk it up to being Meant To Be. This didn’t happen overnight however.

Growing up, my family was not spiritual at all. In fact, circumstances in my life had caused me to resent, even hate God. During my late teens I became a devoted atheist. The great astronomer and physicist, Carl Sagan fascinated me with his explanations of physics and I studied his books and videos with great interest. By the time I was in college I was convinced God did not exist.

Time went by and I found myself wrestling with the nagging feeling that there was more to the whole God thing than I thought. After some time I got tired of constantly dealing with that strange, nagging feeling and decided to prove to myself that the whole concept of God was nonsense. I began by reading the bible. I was happy to find that there were, what I thought to be, many inconsistencies, even contradictions in the bible. Then there was the conflict between scientific “fact” and biblical “tradition” to consider as well.

Proving this to myself had required studying the bible and asking a lot of questions as well as reading various literature (there was no internet in those days). Most of the books I read were written by atheists and focused on debunking the bible. That was fine because that was what I wanted anyway. After several months I was confident that there was no God, nor was there a heaven or hell.

Then, out of the blue, I accepted Jesus as my lord and savior. Go figure!

How did that happen? Well, remember that nagging feeling I talked about? During and especially after my research that nagging feeling became overwhelming. The more I felt it the harder I worked at not believing. For years I was torn. I didn’t know what I believed, yet somehow I did. Unlike many Christians who accept Jesus and immediately act differently, after I accepted Jesus I went on much the same as I had before. This went on for a long time. I was what you would call a “closet” Christian I guess. I knew something had changed but I was reluctant, scared, even embarrassed, to act on the changes in my heart. 

Then, one day I stumbled on a radio show that focused on responding to the so-called “problems” with the bible, with science and questions about Christianity in general.   Each day they took calls from skeptics and believers alike. They were fearless and tackled every question no matter how difficult or controversial. After they answered a caller’s question they always followed it by insisting that the caller do their own research and verify everything they said. I began listening every day.

It didn’t take long before they had covered every one of my criticisms and many others that I hadn’t even thought of. Their answers were convincing but I took their admonition seriously and did my own research as well. I got the old materials out and some new ones as well. The internet was still a baby but even then it was full of websites that dealt with both sides of this issue. I took full advantage of them and poured over every issue. While it took time the reservations I had regarding the bible, the existence of God, Jesus and Christianity were gradually resolved.

Once my faith was established the Lord began working on leading me into a deeper relationship with Him. Even though my wife believed in God she had not yet accepted Jesus Christ as her Savior – a result of serious wounds she received in Church during her early years. Nevertheless, as significant blessings happened in our lives that could not be explained we began to simply say, ‘well, I guess it was just meant to be…’ At first we sort of chuckled at this. However, after the number of these events could no longer be counted on two hands we had to ask ourselves: If it is meant to be, then who makes that decision? That question became a springboard for both myself and my wife into a deeper faith in God.

From my former studies I knew that God was sovereign (Daniel 4:17). I knew that all things worked together for good (Romans 8:28). I knew that God would always look after me (Philippians 4:19), and that God loves us all so much that He sent His only Son to die for us so that anyone who believes can have eternal life in Him (John 3:16).

Because of this I experienced a renewed passion for God’s Word and to this day, decades later, I read my Bible daily, pray many times each day and I have a full and rich relationship with our Lord that I value more than anything this world has to offer. My wife, too, has come to salvation in Christ and together our faith sustains us in this darkening world. I don’t say any of this to boast. Heaven forbid! I only give this as a testimony to how God works in people’s lives, often in subtle ways. In this case a simple saying, ‘Meant to Be,’ revolutionized two individual’s relationship with the Lord.

It was well over twenty five years ago that I initially accepted Jesus as savior. The changes that didn’t happen overnight happened gradually but dramatically and I have been out of the “Christian closet” for years. Its funny, but I’m thankful for the time when I worked so hard to not believe in God because today, when I am assailed by doubt and worry, I pray and reflect on that time. The Lord often brings the things I learned to mind and I am reassured. My wife and I are still amazed at how many things happen in this life that are obviously ‘Meant To Be’ and that is a great comfort for we are reminded that our Heavenly Father is always watching over us through His Son, Jesus Christ.

Faith is a mystery. It doesn’t come from the intellect. But, that doesn’t mean you have to leave logic and reason behind to believe. In fact, I think it is just as important to know why you believe as it is to know what you believe. In fact, the Apostle Peter exhorts us to: "...be ready always to give an answer to everyone who asks you a reason of the hope in you..." (1 Peter 3:15)

I hope that, perhaps, if you are struggling with faith, or don’t know where to turn in these troubling times, that this testimony might encourage you to seek Jesus and in Him find that peace of God that passes all understanding (Philippians 4:7). 

I’m not sure what prompted me to write this tonight. Perhaps your stopping by to read this was Meant To Be – I don’t know. I just had this nagging feeling…

May God’s Grace and Peace Be Upon You,
Mark

Questions? Feel free to ask me.


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